By Naneng Setiasih, Coral Triangle Regional Manager
The small-fishing village of Tulamben in Bali struggled with poverty for decades, but that changed with a series of unfortunate events a few decades ago. The USS Liberty beached along its rocky shore after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. And in 1963 the eruption of Mount Agung pushed the ship into the ocean, making it quickly one of the most well-known wreck dives in the world. It wasn’t long before tourism became the main source of income for the community. Today, Tulamben is known as one of the best dive spots in Bali, and the USS Liberty wreck can see upwards of 100 people per day during the high season.
But with tourism comes more people, and more people means more stress on the marine ecosystems. We started working with the Tulamben community in 2013 to help them manage their coral reefs, and the community is starting to mobilize to take action—notably in the area of waste management.
As it is in many other places in Bali, waste management is a challenge in Tulamben, especially during the rainy season. Tulamben, located at the base of Mount Agung in the North East of Bali, is one of the driest places on the island. Rain is a luxury there, but when it comes, it washes the volcanic sediment and trash that has accumulated in the dry river beds straight into the ocean, burying the nearshore coral reefs.
The village planned and held a community-wide beach cleanup on February 25, 2015, to help remove some of the debris and bring attention to this issue within the broader community. More than 80 people attended the event, including Nyoman Ardika, the head of Tulamben village, and Komang Agus Sukasena, the head of the environmental agency.
“We need both healthy coral reefs and clean beaches for tourists to keep coming to Tulamben,” shared Veronika Niken, one of my coworkers here in Indonesia. “We were excited to see such a great turn-out at the event and to see the community really come together to protect their coral reefs.”
As a next step, community leaders have begun collaborating with their local government to rehabilitate some of their coral reefs. To further quote Veronica, “We look forward to continuing to support this village. We’re excited to see what the future holds for their reefs and and to keep partnering with them in their important efforts.”
Photos From the Beach Cleanup